How Moroccan Architecture Is Built to Beat the Heat

When I was planning a trip to Fez a few weeks ago, I made sure to book a riad (a traditional Moroccan house) with air conditioning. Like many parts of Morocco in July, the temperature was forecast to be almost 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius). I was sweating as I walked through the streets but was pleasantly surprised to find that my guesthouse was nice and cool… and they hadn’t even turned on the AC! This was all thanks to the genius of Moroccan architecture! (more…)

JBT’s Ultimate Guide to the Quranic Schools of Morocco

The long, storied history of learning and scholarship in Morocco is often surprising to first time visitors, and even to some longtime inhabitants. In fact, Morocco boasts the world’s oldest university – the University of al-Qarawiyyin (also written as: Al Quaraouiyine or Al-Karaouine). Recognized by UNESCO and the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest university, al-Qarawiyyin was founded in 859 AD by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a wealthy merchant family who immigrated to Morocco from modern-day Tunisia. (more…)

The Incredible Royal Stables of Meknes

Royal Stables Meknes Sultan Horses Arabian Thoroughbred Studs Studfarm Granary Heri Es-souani

One of Morocco’s most famed rulers was Sultan Moulay Ismail. He was 27 when he came to power and ruled from 1645-1727. During his reign, the country’s capital city was transferred to Meknes, where his slaves brought to life his splendid visions for the city’s architectural masterpieces. Often called“The Bloodthirsty” for his harsh, often violent rule, not only did Moulay Ismail pillage nearby Volubilis for all of its precious marble and other materials to build his palace in Meknes, he was rumored to have buried his slaves within the palace walls if he was dissatisfied with their work. (more…)

The Museum of Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) Now Open in Marrakesh

Museum of Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) Marrakesh Marrakech Morocco Museums Maroc Africa African Art Black Art

The lush grounds of a golf club in the outskirts of Marrakesh are now home to one of the only museums dedicated to African art on the continent. The Museum of Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), privately-owned by a non-profit organization, had its official opening in February of this year. The museum aims to showcase the work of established and emerging artists making art related to Africa. Apart from a big contemporary art museum that opened last year in Cape Town and a few privately-owned galleries that have sprung up, there are relatively few places where African art can be seen on home turf. (more…)

Celebrating July 4th: Why the US Wouldn’t Be the Same Without Morocco

Moroccan American relations Flags relations fourth of July tangier american legation Morocco casablanca tangier

If you’re in Morocco on July 4th, you won’t see fireworks or likely hear the Star Spangled Banner playing. There won’t be any baseball games on TV and you would be lucky to find Deviled Eggs or Grandma’s Potato Salad anywhere. However, what you should know is that the US as we know it likely wouldn’t be if it weren’t for this humble little nation on the northwest corner of Africa. (more…)

Tetouan’s Best-Kept Secret: A Visit to the Royal Artisan School with Green Olive Arts

Tetouan Tetwan Tétouan Tetuán Artes Art Tour

From the crumbling splendor of the 13th-century Alhambra in Granada, Spain, to the 14th-century Madrasa Bou Inania in Fez, Morocco, spectacular examples of Moorish plaster-carving, tilework, and intricately carved painted wood have blown the minds of millions of visitors over the centuries. Today, many of the same skills used to decorate those architectural gems can still be found all over Morocco in dusty craftsmen’s shops, often sprinkled throughout the old medinas of Morocco, where artisans use traditional tools and methods to create gorgeous, geometrically intricate works that are both functional and artistic. Often these skills are passed down from parent to child, but in Tetouan children have a unique opportunity to learn from true masters. (more…)

24 Hours in Tetouan

Tetouan Tetwan Tetouin Tetuan Tetuán Morocco Maroc

The old Medina of Tetouan is a place where people live and work — you won’t find many souvenir shops here. But if you want to experience life in a Moroccan medina with few tourists where you can explore without being bombarded by “come have a look!” then Tetouan is well worth a visit, either as a long day trip or an overnight. With just 24 hours you can get a good sense of Tetouan’s flavor. (more…)

Secret Eateries of Essaouira

Essaouira restaurants

So, you’re in Essaouira for a few days. You’re adventurous and your taste buds are tired of the mostly similar Moroccan fare you’ve eaten so far in Casablanca, Fez and even Marrakesh. You might be with a group and have the afternoon to yourself or perhaps traveling alone or with your partner. Any way you slice it, by the time you get to the beautiful Moroccan coastal town of Essaouira, you’re likely going to be craving something a bit different than the Moroccan fare you’ve been treated to thus far, though you’ll want to search out for something authentic at the same time. Today, I’m letting my secret out of the places I love to dine at while traveling Morocco and telling you all about my secret eateries of Essaouira. (more…)

24 Hours in Essaouira

With its white walls and bright, broad main streets, its relaxed and friendly inhabitants, and its vibrant arts and music scene, Essaouira is my favorite city in Morocco. It has world-class kite-surfing, a beautiful beach and two major music festivals every year. Its atmosphere is unique for Morocco — a splendid mix of new and old, hippy and affluent — and it’s well-developed for tourism. (more…)

Eat, Pray, Love in Morocco – An Evening at Khadija’s Kuzina

In Essaouira, there is a cooking class unlike any other in Morocco. Khadija’s Kuzina, located just outside the medina, is an experience that is so much more than just learning something about cooking Moroccan cuisine. It’s a visit into the hearts of the proprietors, Lahoussaine (a.k.a. “Hussein”) El Faded and Khadija El Jadiri, and an intimate preparation of dinner in their home rather than in a commercial kitchen. (more…)

The Ultimate Parent’s Guide to Morocco Travel

Parent's Guide to Morocco: Mom and Dad's Guide to Traveling Morocco with a baby or child

Morocco is probably one of the most kid-friendly countries I have ever travelled. As soon as I started taking trains, buses, taxis and visiting the souks with my kid, an entirely different country opened up before my eyes. My wife is from Tangier so now, even if we live in Paris, we are in Morocco 3-4 times a year to travel and visit her family. I hate to stereotype, but it really does seem to me that most Moroccans have an extra warm, fuzzy, soft spot in their heart for children. If you spend anytime with a Moroccan family, you can see how this might be. At home, the kids really do rule the roost. Read on for some great tips and insider notes as we bring you our Parent’s Guide to Morocco. (more…)

An Interview with Josh Shoemake, Author of Tangier: A Literary Guide for Travellers

Josh Shoemake Tangier A Literary Guide Book Literary History Beats Tanger Tangiers Morocco Moroccan Literature

If you are heading to Tangier anytime soon, do yourself a huge favor and pick up Tangier: A Literary Guide for Travellers . Sometimes fantastic, often incredible, other times unbelievable – this deftly researched love-letter to one of the world’s most storied cities unearths the stories of the writers and artists who have called Tangier home or passed through here on adventures of their own. These stories are deftly woven together, creating a fabric of a place, one that you can carry with you on your travels. (more…)

Farm-to-Table Dining at Port XIV in Asilah

Restaurants Asilah Morocco Port XIV Assilah Maroc Best Restaurants

At first glance, one might mistake the misty, rolling hills outside of Asilah for the rugged highlands of Scotland. On a rainy, blustery winter’s day — where the only thing standing in your way is perhaps a massive muddy puddle or an enormous bull that looks a bit like a shaggy Shetland cattle — it’s easy to see why you might confuse the two beautiful landscapes. It’s even easier to see why you might confuse them when Karim Ben Ali, a Scottish-Moroccan, begins talking to you with his soft Scottish lilt. (more…)

Perfectly, Imperfect: Our Family’s First Christmas in Morocco

Christmas Morocco Rabat Decoration Kids Holidays

My girls emphatically insist on seeing gaudy, kilowatt-sucking, elaborate red-and-white, Rudolph, Frosty and Santa-inspired holiday decorations at the same time as anyone else in the United States — the day after Halloween. It doesn’t matter that they have never lived in the US. And it doesn’t matter that Halloween hasn’t exactly a been “traditional” holiday anywhere we have lived, whether that was in Central or West Africa or, these days, Morocco. (more…)

Hungry? Try These 8 Moroccan Breads!

Nothing beats a slice of fresh-baked bread, warm out of the oven, slathered with butter and 100% pure honey, paired with a steaming cup of fresh mint tea for breakfast. Lucky for you, in Morocco this is an every-day sort of thing! In fact, not only will you find fresh-baked bread for breakfast, it will be on the table for lunch and dinner and pretty much every snack in between. Bread is such an important staple of the Moroccan diet that its production is subsidized by the government, ensuring that nearly everyone has access to delicious, mouth-watering khobz. (more…)

How to Enjoy Morocco’s Mountains Even If You’re Not A Hiker

Non Athletic Mountain Adventure Morocco High Atlas Middle Atlas RifMorocco has been lucky enough to be blessed with a variety of different landscapes, including some wonderful mountain ranges. From the Rif to the High Atlas, you can enjoy various activities and take in some picturesque scenery, even if mountain hiking isn’t your thing. Though be ready to strap on your most comfy shoes, because there will be a lot of walking! (more…)

Tea with Fatima at the Khemisset Carpet Market

Khemisset Carpet Market Moroccan Berber Rug

I stroll into the Khemisset Carpet Market (souk, in the local lingo) just after 7 am on a quiet Tuesday. The sun has just peaked over the horizon. The rustic, fading structure where the carpet market is held is barely awake. Vendors shuffle quietly in and out with their wares. Delivery carts wobble precariously up and down the aisles, their owners dropping off heavy carpets as they prepare for the busy day ahead. (more…)

Eating Vegetarian in Morocco

Vegetarian Vegan Meals Morocco Marrakesh Casablanca Cuisine

When I became a vegetarian a few years ago, I thought it would be a breeze. After all, I live in Morocco. The fruits and vegetables are relatively cheap here and the cuisine is known for its rich, flavorful spices. However, the truth is that finding my food comfort zone (if there is such a thing) took a little more time, and a little more exploration, than I bargained for. (more…)

How to Enjoy Marrakesh When You’re Afraid of Snakes!

A Cobra Snake Slithers Across the Jemma el-Fna in Marrakesh, Morocco

One of the most valid proofs of a successful visit to Morocco is a picture of you with one of the snakes of Marrakesh slithering over your shoulders. But what if thinking about being near a snake sends a chill shuddering down your spine? You still want to see all the wonders the Red City has to offer, but you hate snakes. It’s quite a dilemma. It makes you wonder: How can I enjoy Marrakesh when I’m afraid of snakes? (more…)